Press Release

Palace calls for unity, cooperation in COVID-19 fight


Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr asked for the cooperation of everyone in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as many areas of the country are now placed under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ, including Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, which will be under GCQ starting tomorrow, August 19.

“Ang laban po sa COVID-19 ay hindi makakaya mag-isa ng pamahalaan. Tulad ng sinabi kahapon ni Marikina Mayor [Marcelino] Teodoro, huwag po nating iasa lahat sa gobyerno. Kinakailangan ng tulong at kooperasyon ng lahat,” stressed Secretary Roque during his press briefing on August 17.

The Palace official acknowledged the support from the private sector to the government’s call for assistance and asked the public to continue to heed government protocols and the minimum public health standards. “Sa huli po, nasa mamamayan po nakasalalay ang lahat. Ipagpatuloy po natin ang ating social distancing, ang pagsuot ng maskara, ang pagkakaroon ng distansiya kahit sa mga kaibigan at kasama sa trabaho, habang kumakain halimbawa, at paghuhugas ng kamay,” underscored Sec Roque.

The same was the position of Dr. Mario Panaligan of the Philippine College of Physicians who stressed the importance of infection control and likewise called on the citizens to continue practicing distancing, handwashing, wearing of face mask, and being mindful of whom one has come in close contact with to help in contact tracing when necessary.

Dr Panaligan, who was one of the resource persons in the press briefing, thanked President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his immediate response to the call of the medical community for a break and for the Administration’s actions on the concerns of the medical community. Dr. Panaligan cited the increase in healthcare workforce and the enhanced referral network through the One Hospital Command.

On the two-week implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in response to the request of the medical community, Secretary Roque said that the government took the necessary actions to intensify prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and recovery. “Nanawagan ang mga doktor, nars, at iba pang healthworkers ng pahinga. Pinakinggan po sila ng Presidente. Binalik ang Metro Manila at karatig probinsiya sa MECQ. Hindi natin sinayang ang dalawang linggong ito para tugunan ang kanilang mga suhestiyon,” stressed Sec Roque.

The Palace official discussed details of these intensified government strategies to beat COVID-19 including active case finding and swab testing that were done by the CODE Teams or the Coordinated Efforts to Defeat Epidemic, the launch of the One Hospital Command Center, the distribution of free re-usable and re-washable face masks, and the inauguration of the COVID-19 dedicated facility in the East Avenue Medical Center.

The said actions and responses of the government were further affirmed by National Task Force Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. who said that intensified contact tracing activities have helped increase the number of people tested for the virus. Sec. Galvez said that there are currently 14, 348 contact tracing teams composed of a total of 145, 733 contact tracers.

With the increase in number of cases detected thru intensified tracing and testing, Se. Galvez said that the government is also enhancing care facilities capacity, targeting nearly 20,000 care facility beds nationwide. In terms of increasing treatment capacity, Galvez said that the government is continuously stocking up on effective treatment medicine and supplies like remdesivir, dexamethasone, avigan, and high-flow nasal cannula, while supporting researches and clinical trials on possible COVID-19 treatment.

On the part of Chief Testing Czar Secretary Vivencio Dizon, he said that there are now nearly two million people who have been tested for COVID-19, which he said is one of the highest in terms of number of tests done in Asia.  However, Sec. Dizon said that this is not enough and that continuous expanded targeted testing should be done in areas where high number of cases are recorded like in the greater Metro Manila area.

Another resource person in the media briefing was Chief Tracing Czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong who said that because of the massive capacity building done in various regions in the country, there has been a gradual increase in contact tracing. Magalong added that because of the two-week MECQ implementation, a surge in the country’s national contact tracing data was recorded.

Meanwhile, Chief Treatment Czar Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega reported an increase in private hospitals’ allocation for COVID beds from 8-10 percent in July to 18-20 percent this month, while bed allocation in public hospitals also increased from 15-17 percent last month to 30-35 percent this August. Usec Vega also underscored the construction of pop-up modular hospitals in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways through Chief Isolation Czar Secretary Mark Villar to improve local health systems capacity.

On a related matter, Roque, who is concurrent IATF Spokesperson, affirmed the approval by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) of the strategic roadmap called Strategy Refresh to enhance the prevent-detect-isolate-treat-recovery strategy of the government in response to COVID-19. Roque said that the strategic roadmap’s objective is to lower the number of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths. Strategy Refresh also aims to reduce transmission rate, ramp up the country’s health system capacity, and recover the economy. ### OPS-PCOO